DJ Barrett is a visual artist and musician. Born and raised in rural New England, he lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, and now resides in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
After several decades of work as an improvising musician, composer, and producer, Barrett's evolution as a visual artist reflects a keen interest in the intersection between improvisation and composition, as well as the influence of the endlessly rich Mexican culture in which he happily finds himself.
He works in collage, assemblage, and mixed media, with a special affinity for vernacular materials such as cardboard, wire, and metal. As a self-taught artist, he embraces fortunate accidents, blatant mistakes, and inept craftsmanship.
Barrett studied music at the University of Indiana until he and his three older brothers formed the seminal San Francisco new wave band No Sisters in the late 1970s. The band opened concerts for the Ramones, the B52s, Joe Jackson, the Psychedelic Furs, Sparks, Oingo Boingo, the Blasters, the Rubinoos, Wilson Pickett, and Martha Reeves, among others. A popular headliner in clubs throughout California, the band’s own opening acts included then-fledgling artists such as Chris Isaak, the Go-Gos, and Romeo Void. They released two singles before calling it a day. Later, Barrett joined Ralph Records recording artists Club Foot Orchestra, best known for reviving the lost art of performing live original soundtracks with classic silent films. In the late ‘80s he formed the post-modern improv group The Splatter Trio, recording five influential cds on the Rastascan label.
Barrett’s saxophone resume also includes credits with legendary artists in the U.S., Europe, and Mexico, including the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Butch Morris, Sam Rivers, Tim Berne, Myra Melford, Magos Herrera, Banda Elastica, Vinny Golia, the Dead Kennedys, Snakefinger, Univers Zero, Randee of the Redwoods, Mr. Bungle, Mamie Van Doren, Ed Mann, Michael Bisio, Todd Reynolds, and Bobby Kapp (as well as many not-so-legendary artists whom he hopes will forgive him for not naming them in this already tedious list). Interdisciplinary collaborations include poets Steve Benson, Norman Fischer, Carla Harryman, and Andrew Levy, painter Leigh Hyams, and an array of Bay Area theater artists and dance companies.
"The useless and the futile open in our experience real intervals of aesthetic humility." -- Fernando Pessoa